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UTEP homecoming spirit keeps energy high in loss against the WKU Hilltoppers

Iziah Moreno
Running Back Torrance Burgess Jr. runs across the field after catching the ball.

Events, tailgates and pep rallies hyped up UTEP’s homecoming game against West Kentucky University (WKU) Hilltoppers (5-4). Unfortunately for the Miners, this game handed the team a loss, slimming the chance to participate in a post season bowl game. 

First Quarter 

With a slow start, both teams had a fierce exchange of seven punts, ultimately leading to a scoreless second quarter. 

Second Quarter 

UTEP kicker Buzz Flabiano kicked a 22-yd field goal at the 6:29 mark, allowing the Miners to find the scoreboard first. At the 5:09 mark, UTEP saftey Oscar Moore intercepted a WKU pass attempt. 

Third Quarter 

At the 10:49 mark, WKU Hilltopper Elijah Young scored a 64-yd touchdown, creating momentum for the team. Following the touchdown, WKU Hilltopper Davion Williams intercepted a pass from UTEP quarterback Cade McConnel. WKU Hilltopper Malachi Corley scored a second touchdown from a 3-yd pass from quarterback Austin Reed with only 0:49 seconds left in the quarter, raising the score to 14-3. 

Fourth Quarter 

UTEP wide receiver Kelly Akharaiyi scored the team’s only touchdown of the night at the 14:15 mark from a 75-yd pass. In response, WKU Hilltopper Elijah Young scored the team’s third touchdown.  

In the 7:30 mark, UTEP quarterback Cade McConnel faced the first and only sack from WKU. In the final 0:57 seconds of the game, the Miners put in a feeble effort to catch up, with a second field goal from Flabiano.  

The final score ended up being 21-13. 

With failure to score more than one touchdown in the game, UTEP is now ranked sixth in Conference USA, with Liberty leading in first place. The Miners have not won a home game since Nov. 2, against Incarnate World (7-2).  

UTEP failed to recover from the previous home game loss of the Battle of I-10 against New Mexico State University (NMSU) (7-3). While the Miners have had a tough season, optimism from the crowd keeps the team’s spirits high. 

Florida Simon Dotson, a 1980 graduate in electrical engineering was at the annual homecoming game. 

Over the past ten years, Dotson, along with an organization of black alumni, come to UTEP homecoming games to show support. Viewing the growth of homecoming spirit on the campus has encouraged Dotson to continue to come every year. 

“Games weren’t this exciting before, with all the extra activities now,” Dotson said. “But it’s really not about who wins or loses the game, it’s about having fun while you’re here. Especially for the fans, we got to cheer them on, whether they win or lose.” 

Mark McDonald Sr. is a 1972 graduate of UTEP, notes that the high energy within the stadium helps the game from becoming gloomy. As a previous football player for the Miners, McDonald comes from Midland, Texas to enjoy the games. 

“The marching band, the dance team, and the (cheerleaders) add a lot of color and a lot of energy to the whole production, and I think it makes it a lot of fun,” McDonald said. “I really appreciate the effort that those kids put in and what they add to the football game.” 

According to some fans, crowd spirit can only take the UTEP Miners so far. The final two games of the season are approaching, with an away game against Middle Tennessee University (MTSU) (2-7) Nov. 18 and the final home game being held Nov. 25, against Liberty (9-0). Hopefully, crowd spirit can lead the Miners to a win for one or both games. 

Sofia Sierra is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Sofia Sierra
Sofia Sierra, Web/Copy Editor
Sofia is a junior studying multimedia journalism with a minor in creative writing. She is the web and copy editor at The Prospector. After graduation, she hopes to work outside of El Paso to continue to grow as a writer.
Iziah Moreno
Iziah Moreno, Contributor/Photographer
Iziah Moreno is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a freshman majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in marketing. After graduation, he hopes to work in the world of photojournalism and media.
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